Monday, May 10, 2010

The plane will take me there

For a barrel child, the problem with knowing that your parents were living in the U.S. is the constant thought that they were living a life of luxury and you were not. Especially if the city they were living in was New York City!

I can’t remember when we first got a television which beamed black and white images on two channels of life outside Trinidad. Those images told of a wondrous place called America. America had skyscrapers that stretched to the heavens. Green fields of corn that looked like they were meant to feed an entire country rather than a village. There were cars that looked like spaceships on wheels. Houses that were grander than any I had ever laid eyes upon in Trinidad. Indoor plumbing that did not force you to go to the bathroom in a potty hidden under your bed at night. Stories of families with children portrayed a sense of togetherness, happiness and tranquility. Images of white flakes that fell from the sky that I tried to imitate with fake snow from an aerosol spray can during Christmas season.

What a beautiful life in America I often thought. And my parents were there seeing and living every minute of it. I would ask myself on numerous occasions, why I am not a part of that life? What deed did I do to relegate me to such exclusion? Why was that life not good enough for me?

Planes became a fascination with me for some time. I would look up in the sky and think that every plane I saw was going to America. And if I could fly one, I too can travel to America to be with my parents. So much so, that in addition to wanting to be a priest, I longed to be a pilot. I would navigate the plane, cut through the blue sky like a kite on a warm Savannah day, and be in New York City in a matter of minutes. Child minutes that is. The other end would be filled by unimaginable bliss and most of all my parents.

Recently, I read a book entitled Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario. In the book, she describes the miraculous journey of a young man from Honduras as he attempts to reunite with his mother in the U.S. As I read Enrique’s quest to feel his mother’s warm touch and experience her undying love, I could not help think about my yearning to be with my parents as a young boy. 

There is something innate in the desire for children to be with their parents. It’s like if your DNA and your parents DNA were like polar opposites of two magnets attracting each other with unrelenting force.  Sometimes those forces can’t be denied or sequestered in a space between sleep and dreams. Sometimes it is palpable like every time I looked at a plane in the sky wondering will I ever get the U.S. to see my parents.

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